Sep 25, 2015 — by: Mark Reschke
Categories: iOS, iPhone, Review, AT&T, Carriers


Apple’s new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus officially begins arriving today for those who have put in pre-orders, and a lot of those orders figure to be purchased via Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program. But exactly how does it work, and what are the details of the program?

Apple is advertising their iPhone upgrade plan for $32, which is technically $32.41 a month, for a 16GB iPhone 6s. The total two year cost ends up being $777.84, which includes the iPhone, AppleCare+ and a bit of interest. If you are looking for a iPhone 6s or 6s Plus with larger storage configurations, take the price of that iPhone, add AppleCare+, divide by 24 and you'll get a good idea of your monthly fee.

Every 12 months you are able to trade in your iPhone to Apple, sign up for the program again, and receive a brand new iPhone, with the two year payment plan starting over again. If you choose to keep the same iPhone for the entire 24 months, at the end of the payment term the iPhone is now yours. This is quite unlike a car lease, which has a set residual price at the end of the lease term, should you wish to re-finance or buy the car outright. With Apple's program, it is a straight forward lease-to-own solution, with no residual at the end of the term.

However, if you want out of the monthly payment plan before the 24 month term is up, the only way to do so is to pay off the sum of the stream of payments. You cannot simply return the iPhone to Apple and absolve yourself of the remainder of payments. That would be more like a month-to-month rental program. This is setup more like a lease, thus it is contractual until the payments are made in full.

The iPhones must be activated in the Apple's store before you leave, and only AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint can be selected as the carrier choice to start with. This makes sense, as Apple is only set up to activate the four major carriers nationwide. However, once you leave the store and are activated on a plan, you are free to switch around and join any number of smaller independent carriers of your choice, but you cannot currently switch to any of the "big four's" wholly owned carriers, such as Boost Mobile.

Apple’s program is specially designed with a major assumption in mind – that compelling new iPhones will be released roughly every 12 months. Based on Apple's track history this is a pretty good bet. For those of you owning iPhone 6 of 6 Plus models, wishing you had a 6s or 6s Plus, but are tired of paying costly upgrade fees, Apple’s iPhone upgrade program might be your perfect solution.

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